Hot under the collar

We rarely wear things our parents wore.

I’ve never had recourse to wear arm bands to keep my shirt sleeves up; I never wore a flat hat to go football; my mother had a different chest size to me, so I never wore any of her bras – well, not since the psychiatrist visit, anyway.

Fashions change.  You don’t see people wearing togas these days or coats made out of mammoths.

As a kid, I’d be dragged, by my mum, into various clothes shops along Balham High Road.  I remember a milliners.  I wasn’t allowed to touch a single hat and realised, at a very early age, I was never going to sport a fascinator, bonnet or boudoir cap.

I’m also neither posh nor old enough to wear braces; I don’t use string to hold my trousers up and luckily never had a de-mob suit. 

However, I did secretly wear my dad’s old football shirt once – although I did think Roy Bentley was a type of car rather than the centre-forward for Chelsea.  Probably best not mention my mum’s thigh-length boots – if only to say how tricky I found walking in such high heels.

Our children are unlikely to go out wearing loons, anything made of velvet and possibly think Biba is a far-way planet.

Time to starch my collar and attach my cuffs.

Lava and lime

In the 60s you didn’t have to go to the edge of Mount Vesuvius to see lava, if you’d saved up enough Green Shield stamps you could get some in a lamp; if you had faulty wiring, there was that ever-present danger the eruption of AD79 would be re-enacted in your flat.

But, if globules resembling something out of the Quatermass Experiment wasn’t for you, then a fibre-optic lamp was the thing to adorn your bedroom in the (in my case) highly unlikely event that a girl might visit. 

In the 70s, in my Balham flat, I would turn my light on in the hope that it would act as a homing device to any unsuspecting girl in our flats (preferably one who liked cricket, Thunderbirds and Sven Hassel novels).

However, the only danger (there was no danger of anyone visiting) was that the fibre-optic lamp, though wonderfully pretty when lit up, would moult more than the hairiest German Shepherd dog. 

This was not advertised on the packaging and you only found out – given the room was in virtual darkness – when you trod on one. Think pieces of Lego, only with a skin-piercing syringe attached. 

I was clearly never going to make it as a Hippie, my mother had installed fire alarms in my room, so joss sticks were out of the question and the only flares I’d see would be my mother firing one out of our flat window signalling my dad had gone to work.